The Democratic Alliance has applauded its Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba for taking power utility Eskom to task over prolonged power cuts in areas such as Diepsloot, Ivory Park, Soweto and Orange Farm.
Mashaba on Thursday threatened to institute dispute resolution proceedings with the national energy regulator over Eskom's decision not to restore electricity to areas affected by frequent blackouts due to illegal connections to the grid.
The utility said on Wednesday it would not restore power to areas where supply was disrupted due to illegal connections and tampering with meters.
Eskom has experienced frequent incidents of equipment failure in some areas, especially in Gauteng province, leading to overloading which results in damage to transformers and mini-substations.
Mashaba, who DA has run the municipality in a coalition since 2016, said he had requested a meeting with Eskom officials within the next 48 hours after the utility allegedly instituted credit management procedures across entire communities in response to individual residents’ failure to pay their bills.
He said Eskom had a legal obligation to provide electricity to those residents who honoured their financial obligations and he found it disturbing that the company had taken a decision not to repair or maintain infrastructure in areas with high levels of non-payment.
DA spokeswoman on public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said while the party held the view that those who failed to pay their electricity bills should be held accountable, it condemned Eskom's apparent illogical punishment of entire communities.
"It is unfair and frankly unethical that paying residents should have to bear the brunt for the actions of a few residents. It is absolutely deplorable that the power utility would choose to not repair and uphold its own electricity infrastructure," Mazzone said.
"This decision will not only sabotage services and economic activities in these communities, but Eskom will also be shooting itself in the foot as future repair costs will most certainly skyrocket.
"Eskom has no right to punish innocent and law-abiding residents for the failures of others. The utility must not forget that its mandate to paying residents is to ensure the reliable and sustained provision of electricity."